who picks up what mabel leaves?

It’s amazing all the events that fall into place for a single moment to happen. I could think back really far for this. But let’s keep it current.

About a month ago I started working at The Globe and Mail. Being a newspaper company, publishers send them a number of free books and cds and dvds, so they can review these items. Once or twice a year, the globe has a charity sale of these items.

The second day I returned from my trip to Saudi the book sale was on. I wasn’t sure I was going to attend. But then my project manager shows up at my desk and talks about a game plan. “We’ll go there ten minutes early and line up. Once you get in, grab all the interesting books you see and sort them out later. Or else everyone else will snatch them!”. She was way too enthusiastic. I had to go.

When I stepped into the room I wasn’t sure where to look. The books weren’t really organized well. So I walked around, putting anything interesting I saw into a bag. I happened to stumble upon this book: Black Stars In a White Night Sky (by JonArno Lawson (a Toronto based writer/poet)). I flipped through some of the pages and it seemed interesting enough to purchase. I didn’t have time to read the book right there, so I bought it solely based on the rhythm of the alignment of the lines.

This weekend my sister, brother-in-law, niece (5 years old) and nephew (5 months old) drove in from New York. My brother-in-law’s grandmother wasn’t too well, and was hospitalized. They came to visit her. The sister and brother-in-law went to visit on Saturday and I was hanging out with Erum (my niece). We were eating ice-cream in my room, she was anxious about the trip to the mall later that day. I decided to read poems from Black Stars to her. I kept repeating the same ones over and over. At some point, she started repeating after me.

This is probably my favourite poem from the book, The Maple Leaves that Mabel Leaves: [direct audio link]

After a bit, she started to play with the guitar. So I recorded again (the conversation we had here is in Urdu): [direct audio link]

Then she started to sing what I believe is the theme song for “Drake and Josh”: [direct audio link]

A thousand moments lead to this one. These are the leaves that we leave, these are the leaves that we rake.

deceptive lines

What should I tell you about him? I could tell you what he wears, the brand of his wrist watch perhaps? I could tell you how tall or short he is or I could tell you about the scar on his left index finger. Maybe, just maybe, I will tell you his name? But what will you do with that? Will you give him a face? No, none of these things matter. If you knew all this about him, you would know more than I do, what would I tell you then?

He’s driving on the highway, slightly on the tip of his toes (figuratively, of course). He’s worried. Often worried about the dizzying speeds, the wobbly trucks, the merging lanes. At this moment, however, he’s worried that he’ll miss his exit. He’s sure to stay on the right lane, eyeing each sign-board as his exit approaches.

Now on the local roads he’s at ease. This is home for him. He rests his right hand under his thigh, palm facing up. Left lane or right, it doesn’t matter now, he knows where he’s going. He had turned the radio off before getting on the highway, he turns it back on to no station in particular. Anything with beats will do.

The rain drops against the windshield accentuate the beats. The wipers, cleaning at a four second interval, provide rhythm to this orchestra. The rain gets heavier, nearly drowning out the radio. He turns the radio off, directing concentration solely on the rain and the road. He’s not worried though, he knows where he’s going.

Traffic is slowing down, that’s okay, he’s not in a hurry. He closes in on the car ahead, a long line of cars in front of it. He doesn’t get too close, leaving a comfortable space between the bumpers. The cars forge ahead slowly. The sound of the tire against the asphalt is nearly nonexistent. The rain is making all the noises.

Then in a sudden instant it stops. The wipers clear the last batch of rain drops and none follow. The beats are gone and just the rhythm of the wipers remains. The rain continues to fall, just not on his car. He thinks it’s a miracle, what else could explain this? He props himself forward and looks above. He’s under a bridge. He chuckles to himself having found a scientific explanation. A train passes on the bridge above, taking Doppler along with it. He passes from under the bridge and the beat and rhythm are back in their places.

Tik tak tik tak tik tak. He signals a lane change to the left, then almost instantly begins to change lanes. A mini-truck whizzes by having changed lanes to the right from the far left lane. He jolts the car back into the right lane. Alert and both hands on the steering wheel now, his right palm feels cold. Lines start forming on his forehead and a frown on his face. WHAT THE HELL!?! I could have been crushed, he thinks. For a moment he contemplates honking the horn in a mad-man like fashion. That won’t do any good, the mini-truck driver won’t change driving habits by the life-altering sounds of honking.

He starts to ponder upon this moment further. He could have just died, or been heavily injured. The collision would have happened on the side he was sitting on. WHAT THE HELL!?! That was an illegal lane change. The lines on the road were supposed to protect him from this situation. Dashed lines allow you to change lanes, but a straight line restricts you to your own. Sadly, the lines only work when everyone follows them, and yet we take them for granted. As if the lines were enough.

He’s startled and shaken. Unsure, at this point, of where he’s headed. You can only trust these lanes so much, can only trust these lines so much. As much as they guide your turns, they can turn on you. He starts driving as if he was back on the highway. No longer at home.

no time

if there is something you must say
don’t wait to be asked
time is a precious thing
the moment may not last

so do what you must do
leave no room for regret
and remember: if you don’t ask
you don’t get